New Hampshire’s primary holds the distinction of not only being the nation’s first (Iowa holds a caucus), but also one of the easiest to participate in. This is true for voters — who can cast a ballot for either party’s candidate, as long as they’re not registered as a member of the opposing party — as well as for prospective candidates: All you need in $1,000, and you’re on the ballot. That’s why, in addition to familiar names like Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley — yes, New Hampshirites can still vote for O’Malley, even though he dropped out of the race — voters will see 25 other names when they go to vote in the Democratic primary Tuesday. (There are a total of 30 candidates on the Republican side.)
Among the candidates running in New Hampshire’s Democratic primary are performance artist Vermin Supreme, “world-class chess gadfly“ Sam Sloan and convicted felon Keith Judd, who in 2012 mounted a presidential bid while serving 17-and-a-half years in federal prison for extortion. (He won 72,000 votes to Barack Obama’s 106,000 in the West Virginia primary that year.)
The rest of them? They’re mostly normal guys who think they have some good ideas to share. Rolling Stone reached out to all of the lesser-known Democratic candidates, and was able to get a hold of six of them on the eve of the New Hampshire primary. Here’s what they had to say.
Hometown: New York City
Platform: “Student loans is my issue,” Adams says. “I started off saying, ‘Well, we can’t give everybody free college, especially not with such a large national debt, but we can cut student loan interest rates.’ That will give everyone an immediate break, and then we can go from there.” He also believes the U.S. is not doing enough to fight ISIS; if elected, he says he would send U.S. special forces to combat the terrorist group, and would ally with Russia for help in that fight. He’d also like to colonize Mars and the moon. “It would provide a huge boost to science, and an inspiration for our children.”
Fun fact: Adams, who claims to be a descendent of President John Adams, is not married — but he is looking for that special first lady. As he writes on his website, “If you have a deep, abiding love of country as well as class, elegance and style, please email a short bio to: FLOTUS@adamsforpresident.com.” Adams tells Rolling Stone he hasn’t gotten many bites yet. “Actually, it seems like people are scared of it. I had more dates before I ran for president. I guess unless you get elected it doesn’t really mean anything.”
Previous political experience: Ran for Congress in New Mexico in 2008
Potential endorsement: “I’ll support whoever the nominee is — I’m not looking to run as a third party or be a spoiler.”
Age: 79, but “I look about 50”
Hometown: Heuvelton, New York
Occupation: Insurance investigator and negotiator
Platform: Burke’s big issue is the economy. He believes the government isn’t doing enough to create jobs and keep companies in the U.S. His plan? “Cut the tax base for some of these companies that have run because of high taxes. Government has an insatiable need for money,” Burke says. “Well, so do people and so do corporations. Don’t penalize them because they are making money.” He also believes in shuttering overseas military bases in countries that are not helping pay for those bases.
Previous political experience: Burke is a town councilman in Macomb, New York. He worked as a legislative assistant in the New York State Senate and the New York State Assembly before running for president in 1992. He also ran for Congress in 1993 and 2014.
Potential endorsement: “Not at this time,” he says, noting he’ll “wait to see what happens” Tuesday.
Occupation: Contractor for the U.S. Army, specializes in computers
Hometown: Lexington, Kentucky
Platform: A military contractor, Lovitt says he’s concerned about certain cuts in defense spending, particularly those that affect active-duty officers. “Our military is not getting the things they need, and it breaks my heart,” he says. “The really awful part of it is they are out there in Afghanistan getting shot at, and they are getting orders that when they get back home they are not going to have a job.” Lovitt also believes the U.S. is missing a critical opportunity right now. “While the price of oil is really low, we should be buying it up and putting it in the strategic oil reserve; that will help stabilize the price of oil by increasing demand,” he says.
Potential endorsement: “I like Carly Fiorina. Carly just sort of stands out to me, when she talked about the sixth fleet in the Mediterranean. Yeah, she knows what’s going on.”
Hometown: Port Aransas, Texas
Platform: Locke’s main focus is on creating jobs. He has one program in particular that, if elected, he’d like to see enacted. It involves “building and transporting water from the Great Lakes, using the Red River, down through the breadbasket states into Texas. That idea has been drawn up before, but no one has ever pushed it through,” Locke says. “Texas, we always need water.”
Richard Lyons Weil
Hometown: Fort Collins, Colorado
Occupation: Medical malpractice lawyer
Platform: If elected, Weil says one of his first actions would be to “increase the minimum wage to $22 an hour and index it to inflation so that the American worker doesn’t lose money every day.” He believes in reforming America’s drug laws, starting by pardoning all drug offenders. “I would decriminalize and legalize everything. You have a heroin addiction? Go to your local heroin doctor, go to Walgreens, pick it up and let them maintain it, get your treatment and move on. Nobody goes to jail for drugs. Period.”
Quotable moment: “I’m basically Bernie Sanders on steroids. That’s what it boils down to.”
Potential endorsement: “Hillary is probably the most qualified. She’s got a couple dings on her, but either one of those guys [Clinton or Sanders] would be good.”
Occupation: Real-estate developer
Hometown: New York City
Platform: Hewes identifies as a pro-life Democrat. “That is, and remains, throughout my adult life my most critical issue,” he says. “Both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are radical pro-abortion candidates…. They are utterly untroubled by the 58 million aborted children since 1973.” He’s against capital punishment in any circumstance as well. He favors reforming the financial system and eliminating the Veteran’s Administration. “They have definitely proved that they are unable to take care of veterans. We should just give veterans real medical insurance.”
Previous political experience: He worked as a regional and state director for the presidential campaigns of Pat Robertson, Pat Buchanan and George H.W. Bush, and ran for mayor of New York City in 1989, for U.S. Senate in 1994 and for president in 2008.
Potential endorsement: “If Rand Paul were nominated for the Republican Party I could certainly support him over Hillary Clinton. If a Republican candidate showed up with the right package of positions, I could probably support that candidate. I haven’t found such a candidate in this election yet.”